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The right pack can make outdoor adventures even more enjoyable

There are different extremes of hiking adventures. Some backpackers enjoy scaling mountains or trekking for weeks through foreign countries. Others are content simply walking down a dirt path in their neighborhood park. There are backpacks for every hiking style -- long-term travel, weekend trips, some specifically designed for women and those who are on a budget. Even those less expensive bags are often well made and get good reviews for comfort. External frames are becoming more rare; most packs now have internal stays -- metal bars sewn into the packs -- and are referred to as internal frame or sometimes hybrid packs.

A good daypack can cost as little as $80 or as much as $400 or more. Larger packs cost more. More expensive packs usually get better reviews for durability, comfort and ease of use. Experts recommend that hikers pack as lightly as possible. Experts also recommend you pack your bag as tightly as possible to prevent your gear from shifting inside. A bag with good compression will help contain gear as well as make the bag more versatile because it can make the bag shrink or grow with the packed gear. 

Many reviewers suggest that beginners start with an inexpensive backpack and invest in higher-quality packs as they get more miles under their belts. ConsumerSearch has analyzed a number of expert reviews and hundreds of owner reviews to select the best hiking backpacks overall, specifically for women, for those on a budget, and for weekend hikers who just need a lightweight day or weekend pack. One of these is sure to be a handy companion on any adventure.

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